A new species of titanosaurian dinosaur has been uncovered in Tanzania. Paleontologists from Ohio University have uncovered this new species which belonged to the middle of the Cretaceous Period
The species has been named Rukwatitan bisepultus and was found embedded in a cliff in the Rukwa Rift Basin in the southwest of the country. The details of the discovery were published in the journal of vertebrate paleontology. Paleontologist used excavators and coal miners to dig through to discover vertebrae, limbs, pelvic bones and ribs.
Remains of titanosaurian dinosaurs have been found in many places around the globe particularly in South America. However this is the first time a fossil has been discovered in Africa. CT scans were conducted on the fossils and the details were compared with other sauropods. The studies revealed that it was different from from previous discoveries, including those from other parts of Africa.
Lead author Eric Gorscak, a doctoral student in biological sciences at Ohio University said in a statement, “Using both traditional and new computational approaches, we were able to place the new species within the family tree of sauropod dinosaurs and determine both its uniqueness as a species and to delineate others species with which it is most closely related.”
Rukwatitan bisepultus prowled the planet some 100 million years ago during the closing dinosaur age. In spite of their large size and frightening appearance Titanosaurian sauropods were herbivorous dinosaurs. Rukwatitan bisepultus was huge and weighed as much as several elephants.
Co-author Patrick O’Connor said that there is a possibility that the isolated environment of the Rukwa Rift Basin led to a distinct species.
O’Connor said, “There may have been certain environmental features, such as deserts, large waterways and/or mountain ranges that would have limited the movement of animals and promoted the evolution of regionally distinct faunas.”
Most of the knowledge about titanosaurian evolutionary history comes from discoveries in South America. South America was once joined with Africa but during the first half of the Cretaceous Period, it underwent a steady separation from Africa.